Over longer periods of one or two decades, the proportion of Hungarian diploma holders enrolled in higher education increases or stabilizes, which is of course a positive trend and a factor in social and economic development. However, when the megatrend is examined in detail and placed in context, severe structural problems emerge. The Hungarian graduation rate is among the highest in the European Union, and the country can’t boast well-developed access to higher education either.
We have already written about the fact that the increase in the proportion of Hungarian graduates between 2004 and 2022 is much lower than the average of the EU and countries of the region – moreover, the differences within the country are also severe – which means a significant decline in competitiveness in the long term. This phenomenon also seems to illustrate the limits of Hungarian catch-up.
a new one Stady From another point of view, it highlights the problems hidden behind the mainly positive trends related to Hungarian higher education. In the New Educational Review, educational researcher Istvan Polony offers statistical calculations to say just that
- Although access to higher education is expanding proportionately, a larger and larger portion of the given age group is enrolling in education
- At the same time, the social inequality inherent in the entry process is increasing.
This leads to the sad main statement of the study: the expansion of Hungarian higher education has not increased, but rather reduced access to higher education from economically backward areas. There are more and more people coming from wealthier areas, and competition has decreased.
Statement 1: On average, chances of admission increased between 2001 and 2022.
Although the number of people in the age group traveling by train decreased during this period, the number of applicants for and admission to higher education increased. Absolute number It fell even lower. As a result, the ratio – that is, the ratio of participants in higher education to the total population of the age group – increased. This can be seen in the figure below – taken from the study – and the thin trend line.
At the same time, there have been relatively large dips and jumps in the evolution of the number of all applicants and those accepted. According to the author, educational policy measures such as the imposition of tuition fees in 2007 and attempts to increase self-costs in 2013, as well as the mandatory advanced level graduation in 2020 for applicants for admission, are responsible for this.
In other words, although the underlying trend is stable and increasing demand for higher education is consistently associated with increasing access to higher education, different governments are able to cause large fluctuations in the number of applicants one measure at a time. .
The study makes a more important statement about the growing income opportunity in general: the growth rate shows a slowing trend between 2001 and 2022 (this can also be observed on the plotted trend line). The reason for this, according to Poloni, is the post-2010 education policy, which basically contained the higher education boom through some measures, for example, by reducing the number of employees on state scholarships from 53 thousand to 34 thousand under the law Kalman zil. The plan in 2012.
Then, by 2015, the proportion of admissions to full-time undivided basic education compared to all applicants decreased significantly – admission became more difficult, and the process of “socialization” of higher education came to a halt.
This has led to a significant halt in the growth of the overall participation rate in Hungarian higher education and, moreover, this decline in admission opportunities is almost unprecedented among developed countries. Looking at the V4 countries, this development no longer seems unique, but its scope is still much greater. All this can be seen in the author’s photo below.
Second statement: The standard deviation of the chances of acceptance increased according to the economic situation
Since there is no data on applicants for higher education and their families in the Higher Education Database, the study draws conclusions about the economic situation from the level of economic development of the sub-district or area of residence. Naturally, this is not the same as the economic situation of the applicants and their families, but it is appropriate to indicate the average financial situation of people living in the area.
In this way, it is possible to examine income opportunities separately from small regional deciles showing the economic situation, expected per thousand inhabitants, in a given year. The following is the evolution of the number of people admitted to undivided, full-time state higher education courses per thousand inhabitants in the different deciles, in the years 2013, 2017 and 2021.
We can say that
- Opportunities are always better in more affluent sub-regions than in less affluent or deprived areas. The difference is relatively large.
- Meanwhile, the gap between 2013 and 2017 has only widened further: it has become easier for the top 20 to enter, and more difficult for the bottom deciles. In Hungarian society, the slope of inequality has become steeper.
According to the study, the decline in opportunities for some social groups, that is, increasing inequality in access to higher education, is a result of education policy in the past ten years. This education policy was able to increase the participation rate in higher education in Hungarian society, but it was not able to fairly equalize opportunities between social groups. Although one of the UNESCO documents also states that universal access to higher education is not only a beautiful and valid human idea, but also a modern achievement with economic benefits.
Below average spending
In addition to policy decisions, the region is also clearly defined by the fact that it can be read from data on state education expenditures in proportion to GDP: In the last two decades, governments have withdrawn significant resources from Hungarian education as a whole.
If we look at higher education expenditures in proportion to GDP and going back several years, we get interesting results, and we can see the significant withdrawal of funds in Hungarian higher education starting in 2012, which can be corrected to some extent by a large amount promised Constituent Universities in Government Decree 2021. The expenditure ratio therefore does not reach the EU or OECD average.
Not a completely unique path
The above problem does not appear to be entirely Hungarian idiosyncrasy: at first glance, a similar conclusion was reached by another study that looked at access to higher education in the UK over a 50-year period.
The data showed that the number of disadvantaged students attending university is now lower than before, with the average relative deprivation of university graduates falling.
Accordingly, it can be said that greater university availability did not help students with good abilities but from a disadvantaged situation to create opportunity, but rather students with worse abilities, who had fallen out of an already advantageous social situation, fell into disarray. Better situation. Therefore, the UK higher education system cannot help promote social equality either.
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